U.S. election: the aftermath

The 46th President has been elected after a night of uncertainty and days of waiting

Photo by Associated Press.

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5 minute read — by Sam Feierabend

America. The self-confessed land of the free and the place where your dreams can come true is watching its reputation crumble in front of their own eyes. When voters queued up to cast their ballot for the next presidential term on Tuesday, there were whispers of what may happen in the aftermath of results being released in the days following election day. Those predictions are now unravelling at an alarming rate.

The night of results being announced started relatively routinely. Joe Biden and Donald Trump traded early blows in traditional strongholds. The Eastern Seaboard of New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and so on, all projected in Democrat favour while Republicans held onto the Deep South and Midwest with states like Louisiana, Alabama, the Dakotas and Indiana declaring for Trump.

Eyes then started to monitor Georgia, one of the key battleground states of the night, where reports of delayed ballot counting became apparent with a burst water pipe in a district of Atlanta stalling the count by up to four hours. Consequently, ballot counters were sent home early for the night delaying a key result which at time of writing, still has not been announced. Reports then began to filter through of extremist groups gathering at polling stations demanding that people go home and not vote. The dirty tactics had begun.

As the rest of the world began to wake up, the night was still young stateside. While the majority of states had been projected, seven were still being counted. These included the three Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin where Trump had destroyed the blue wall in 2016 with his connection to the working class who had seen their industry and livelihoods outsourced by previous administrations. With Joe Biden’s working class background and own family being hit by economic depression in the 1920s, the Democrats felt confident about rebuilding their historic stronghold. Early projections predicted merely a few thousand votes between the candidates with Trump slightly in the ascendency. The final votes to be counted in these states would be postal votes in the cities. Given Trump’s staunch criticism of the postal vote, and outward instructions to Republicans to not vote by post, many of the remaining votes would be expected to favour the blue party.

Then came the catalyst for chaos. At around 6am GMT, Donald Trump proudly marched into the conference room in the White House and declared the night a “fraud on the American people” before announcing that he had won the election. He announced his intentions to take the issue to the Supreme Court and demand all votes stop being counted. This statement came just a few hours after Twitter had blocked a tweet from the President claiming that the Democrats were “trying to STEAL the election”. Even Mike Pence looked slightly uncomfortable speaking to reiterate his support for Trump.

Joe Biden on the other hand stood in his hometown in Delaware declaring his confidence that he could still win the election and it would take patience. “We will not rest until every vote is counted,” he stated, affirming the need for democracy to be upheld.

Meanwhile the count continued. The Trump margins in Michigan, Georgia and Wisconsin narrowed further prompting his administration to announce it would be suing commissions in key states for blocking moderators from viewing ballot papers as they were counted (with no evidence).

After Wisconsin and Michigan fell to the Democrats, Trump had to win all four of Nevada, North Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania to stay in the White House. It has left the world in a unique situation. The President has declared victory in an election where the reality is that he has lost. A recount in Wisconsin has already been demanded, and more is expected to follow as the final states release their projections. What we are watching could be the actions of a corrupt Middle Eastern dictator refusing to leave office after losing an election. But this is happening in one of the West’s greatest powers.

Joe Biden and his team throughout the campaign have hammered home one point. Democracy must prevail. He keeps repeating the need for every single vote to be counted before a winner is declared.

On the other hand, as Trump watches his Presidency crumble before him, his petulance is coming to the fore. He watched four years ago as the anger of the American people carried him to the White House and start playing business-like chess with politics. It now seems that enough Trump supporters in the right places have “woken up” to the Democrats’ message. A record voter turnout has already given Biden the most popular votes in history. Trump’s objective failure to handle a pandemic and slowly turn himself into a laughing stock worldwide has tarnished his legitimacy as a viable politician.

It took four days to finally project a winner of the election. The declaration of Pennsylvania for Biden took him past the 270 mark and with it, came the presidency. He will sit as the 46th President of the United States.

Yet Trump’s erratic behaviour means he is yet to accept the result and is stubborn to leave office. We may not have a final, legal decision on who is the next president even until December. Trump was never going to concede quietly but claims of ‘random ballots being dumped on polling centres’ are there to incite anger and spark civil unrest to disrupt any counting process. If Trump goes to the Supreme Court to dispute the result, as expected, and the result is overturned, we have to accept that democracy is dying in front of our eyes.

As contradictory and flawed the American Constitution is, it was written to be the bedrock for a fair and democratic country to uphold freedom for those within it for generations. For centuries, elections in America have been closely fought, sometimes disputed – but always accepted by candidates and voters alike. The best political minds in American history sit on Mount Rushmore looking over South Dakota, which ironically, voted to re-elect the Trump administration. Whilst Trump will never get to sit through a second term, the former President’s actions over the last few days show that if he has ambitions of joining the great minds on that mountain, he will have to grab a hammer and chisel and start carving himself.